So you’re starting the IB next year? I’m not surprised if you’re nervous. With all the rumours and myths surrounding the IB Diploma it’s rare to find any class of Pre IB students who don’t have a tiny glint of fear in their eyes. Okay maybe that’s an exaggeration. But at Lanterna we felt all the same things you’re feeling before we started our own Diplomas. The thing is, there are loads of reasons to look forward to the IB too. The key is to be prepared.
With all that in mind, here we have gathered our top 10 tips for how to prepare for the IB!
1. Assess your IB subjects
Assuming you’ve already chosen your subjects, take some time to really think about how your workload will feel next year. What subject do you think you will find hardest? What subject will you need to pay extra attention to in class? If you’re starting an entirely new subject, be prepared to give yourself more time to get to grips with how it works. The thing to remember is that everyone faces different challenges in the IB and everyone has different strengths. Importantly, no IB student finds everything easy. Becoming aware of what to expect will make next year’s transition a lot easier. To do this, try to predict:
- Your hardest subject
- Your favourite subject
- The subject you’ll spend the most time on
2. Get to know your new subjects
If you’re starting a new subject that you’ve not studied before, do some research! Find out more about what it involves and what kinds of topics you’ll be learning about. Don’t worry about the specific IB syllabus but instead focus on what you are interested in. For example:
Psychology – read blogs like We’re Only Human, which contains a bunch of articles about the oddities of human nature
Business & Management – try paying extra attention to the business section in your local newspaper
Global Politics – a quick browse around Google will find loads of different websites you can start digging into. Just remember that each one will have its own slant and perspective.
Economics – while The Economist touches on business and politics as well, it’s a good place to start if you want to find out more. Or you could go straight to basic theories here.
Philosophy – try out this Oxford University podcast, Philosophy for Beginners
3. Keep up the English
If English isn’t your first language it’s important that you do as much as you can to polish up your skills before starting the IB. Read your favourite book in English, watch English or American films WITHOUT the subtitles, or challenge your friends to only talk to you in English at certain times of the day!
4. Keep up the Language B
Like with English, it’s important to keep up your language B option over the summer break. The secret to improving your language skills is to put real time and effort into it. Unless you’re going to spend time travelling and speaking in a country where that language is spoken (which is a great experience if you can get it!) you’re not going to naturally absorb anything unless you commit to it. Find ways to get yourself excited about the language, whether that’s watching a Spanish TV show, or cooking using a French-language recipe book. For inspiration, have a look at these twins who taught themselves Turkish in 7 days!
5. Explore extra-curricular activities
The IB isn’t just about the academic things! The whole point of CAS is that the IB wants you to do things beyond the classroom. Use this summer as a chance to try out new activities that could turn into fun CAS projects next year. Do the thing you always wanted to do but never got round to trying – you never know, you could become the next greatest circus act, or realise it’s your calling to found a llama sanctuary. And as a bonus, if you tell us about your CAS project next year you could be awarded a scholarship for Lanterna’s Mid-IB Summer Course!
This image comes from LlamasintheRaw.com, an actual llama sanctuary
6. Know your study strengths
Think about your study habits. Are they good? Bad? Would you recommend them to a friend? The fact is most of us don’t choose our study or work habits, we sort of fall into them by accident. This can be dangerous because it means we end up doing what is easy or obvious, but not what is best.
Now is the time to work out what study habits work for you. If you’re missing deadlines because you leave work until the last minute and then run out of time, force yourself to do your homework on the day that it is set instead of the day before it’s due. If you’re always falling asleep before you finish your homework, try starting your work earlier. Equally try changing the place where you do your work to find out if working in public (say a library or café) is better than in your bedroom. I promise you that if you can work out how you work best you will be light-years ahead of most other students starting the IB.
7. Practice getting organised
If you can never seem to get organised, or if you’re constantly finding your Math notes mixed up in your sock drawer, now is the time to turn this around. It can be easy to feel like being disorganised is as much a part of your identity as whether you like smooth or crunchy peanut butter, but the truth is, it’s far, far more fixable than that. Don’t try to change your ways in a day, but do start with the little things. Buy a folder and practice putting your notes in there, uncreased and in chronological order, for the rest of the year. Download a to-do list app and make yourself use it every single day for two weeks running. Organisation is one of the most important things to learn in the IB, and practicing now will make it a lot easier next year.
Read Lanterna’s own Guide for the Disorganised Student here!
8. Ignore the IB rumours
I mentioned the rumours and myths surrounding the IB at the very start of this blog, but the thing to remember is that not all the rumours are true. In fact most are total lies. You will be able to have a social life, and pursue your own interests, and enjoy your final two years of school! You will, as long as you stay organised and commit to staying on top of your work. It’s not hard, it just takes a little bit of effort. Similarly, don’t let rumours about how difficult a subject is put you off. Yes HL Math is hard for people who struggle with Math, but if you enjoy it, want to know more, and are good at it, OBVIOUSLY it’s a good choice for you.
9. Get support
If on the other hand you are nervous about a certain subject or the workload in general, remember that help is always close at hand. Use these last few weeks of the school year to talk to your teachers about your subjects. Get advice from them about how you can improve your studies over the summer. A little bit of extra reading or regular exercises in a subject can go a long way. And sometimes a bit of tutoring or an IB Preparation Course is exactly the answer to getting that extra but of guidance and confidence to help you cruise through that first year of the IB with flying colours.
10. Get excited about starting the IB!
Last but not least, get excited! The IB is awesome. It is not only a means to a brilliant end (remember how much universities all over the world love the IB?) but a way to truly develop your knowledge, skills and experience. Throw yourself into the programme, and success is just around the corner!